Even though I know nothing about March Madness, there is one thing I can totally get behind. The food and the party (OK, technically that's two things. But they work together.) Every year, Mr. T gets together a big group of his friends to watch the first major day of March Madness. It's kind of like an open house. It starts in early afternoon and people come whenever to hang out, each, drink, and watch the games. And since I don't know how to do anything in a simple, tiny, little way, we go pretty big. That's how parties should be people! In my opinion, last year was a sweet success and created quite the benchmark so obviously this year had to be even better. So here's what we did along with five steps to plan an awesome March Madness party. Also with a whole lot of shameless plugs. Sorry I'm not sorry.
Step 1: Figure out what the hell March Madness is.
Ask a friend. Consult the Googles. Whatever you have to do to figure out what it is.
Step 2: Figure out the guest list/how many people are coming.
You don't have to get fancy here. But, like any good party, you have to know who you plan to invite so you can plan how much food to buy/make. And then obviously you'll want to let people know they are invited in some way so you can get some RSVPs. Mr. T just makes a little Facebook event.
Step 3: Plan the menu.
In my humble opinion, the menu is the most important thing. We all know that people really only come to parties for the food. You want food that's a) within your skills to make b)easy for people to grab and eat and c) really tasty. Here's what we decided on this year.
My famous cheeseball
(found in this post here)
I actually don't have a picture of it because it was sitting on our coffee table and totally missed being in all of the shots I took. Sorry!
Buffalo chicken dip
(found in this post here)
Dill dip with chips and veggies
This is pretty easy and is a concocter (I LOVE that word) that my mom invented and I stole it from her.
Sour cream (I usually use one of the 16oz, but you can use more or less depending on how much you want to make)
1/4 Dill (I like the fresh better than the stuff in the seasoning aisle, but you can use either. I also think this is about what I use, you can season it with more or less depending on your tastes. I like it good and dilly)
1 tsp Seasoned salt (same thing here, give it more or less)
What to do:
Combine half of the sour cream, dill, and seasoned salt in food processor.
Put mixture in a bowl and then add the rest of the sour cream. I do this because the food processor makes the sour cream a little soupy. You can also just chop the dill and mix it with everything by hand. I prefer the processor because it makes everything fine and mixes well.
Serve with veggies or chips or both.
Cookie dough dip pretzels & vanilla wafers
(also found in this post here)
We just put it in a bowl, but you could totally make it into a basketball.
French toast cupcakes with maple buttercream frosting
These are heavenly. I cannot even begin to tell you how amazing they are. The streusel provides this tasty little crunch and the buttercream is so tasty with them. You will easily stuff three of them in your face (I know because I literally and shamefully did one night. I couldn't stop).
We used this recipe over here.
Then we tinted the buttercream frosting orange using tints you can find in the baking section at your local craft store. Then we just piped on lines of frosting to make them look like basketballs.
The backboards were made with graham crackers and vanilla candy melts (that you can also find at your local craft store). We just melted them, covered a graham cracker, and let them sit in the freezer to harden. Then piped on lines of red frosting to make a square. I actually put them back in the freezer again to make it all set up nicely. I stuck a toothpick in the bottom of the graham cracker so I could put it in the back of the cupcake and it would sit nicely.
We also decorated the with some lovely food flags from my stationery store.
Salsa with mini tostadas & mini pizza rolls/puffs
We used the yummy salsa I talk about all the time.
We actually made the mini tostadas last year using a variation this recipe, but used homemade taco shells. This year the homemade stuff didn't work so well because it seems we have a different muffin pan. Rather than fighting with them we decided to go with the taco shell route in the actual recipe. We just used a glass to make the circles. Things were smooth sailin' until we ran out of our original taco shells and had to buy new ones. I never knew there was a difference in taco shells, but let me just tell you, there is. They were sort of flaky so they just started to fall apart once we cut them to make circles. We ended up just making flat circles rather than "cups". They worked fine, but they were hard to keep the ingredients in.
Here's what we topped them with (in this exact order):
Chicken, cooked a couple of days before in the crockpot with my homemade taco seasoning
Shredded Mexican blend cheese
Shredded iceberg lettuce
Shredded red cabbage
The mini pizza rolls were inspired by this recipe.
At first, we attempted to make them using the pizza dough we usually use, but after the fiasco with the mini tostadas I didn't have the patience to roll crap out (and didn't think my carpaly tunnely hands could handle it). Mr. T couldn't find any premade pizza dough like the recipe calls for (oh Brooklyn) so we ended up using crescent rolls and I did my own little thing that turned out ugly, but very tasty.
Ground turkey, cooked a few days before with my homemade taco seasoning
Shredded Mexican blend cheese
What I did:
Basically I just unrolled the crescent rolls like normal, put the mixture inside it and then folded it up kind of like a present. It's kind of hard to explain what I did because I still don't have any idea. I just made it so it was basically an enclosed pocket. I made a couple of them into a ball (similar to a meatball method) and that worked too. Then I baked them in a 400° oven for about 8-10 minutes. They look a little crazy, but they were so good. I don't know why I didn't do the roll like the recipe called for. I think it's because I wanted it to be more like a pizza roll.
Step 4: Don't forget about the decor.
You can never go wrong with orange and black.
Obviously, since I own a stationery store and just produced some mad March Madness party kits, we used one of those. Because it makes it look fun and not like a kid's birthday.
We opted for the Lingo Party Kit and it looked pretty awesome when it all came together.
We also made the food part of the decor. The food was a bracket which is why we had one dip and then two things to dip it in (aside from the buffalo chicken dip because everyone we know likes it with chips). We made a bracket out of kraft paper and then used that to cover the table.
Then each food item was named after one of the team names from the bracket we do with our friends. I just wrote the team name on the front of the food card and what the food actually was on the back.
Step 5: Eat, drink, and watch basketball
We had a little bar set up in our kitchen so people could make a cocktail.
We also made a special cocktail, White Sangria, which we found on Food Network.
We chose it because it was red and blue for the Dayton Flyers (Mr. T's team). Honestly, I was not a fan. It was OK the first day we made it, but very tart and not sweet at all (of course that could be because we used soda water and not actual soda, but I am not sure if that would help). We also tried to drink it the next day and holy crap it was so sour. I am not sure if I would make it again or if I did I probably would make sure we used the soda and wouldn't use the lemons or the limes.